Pak Confirms Faisal Shahzad Met Pak Taliban Chief

A Muhammad/Peshawar
Pak Confirms Faisal Shahzad Met Pak Taliban Chief
Pakistani-American Faisal Shahzad, who pleaded guilty to a botched car bomb attack in New York, visited Pakistan seven times and met local Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud, the Pakistan interior minister admitted today.

"He (Shahzad) visited Pakistan seven times in the last few years and he met Hakimullah Mehsud and also met other people, (including) leaders of the Taliban," Rahman Malik told reporters in Pabbi town in the country's northwest.

The acknowledgement came just days after the emergence of a video that showed 30-year-old Shahzad, son of a retired air vice marshal, shaking hands with and hugging Mehsud, the chief of the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan.

Mehsud had claimed responsibility for the failed car bombing in New York on behalf of the Taliban and warned that his group would carry out more such attacks.

Shahzad pleaded guilty to the bomb plot in a New York court last month and warned of more attacks on the US.

Pakistani security and intelligence agencies have detained several persons, including former army officers, for alleged links with the Pakistan-born Shahzad.

Interior Minister Malik sought to distance Pakistan from Shahzad, saying he is an American national and the US administration should try him in accordance with its laws.

"We accept he is of Pakistani origin but all his actions in America should also be investigated," Malik said.

Documents filed in court by US investigators have said that Shahzad admitted that he was trained in bomb-making during a 40-day stay with the Pakistani Taliban between December 2009 and January this year.

Malik said Shahzad's case should be seen in its "greater perspective" as it is a matter of mindset.

"The Taliban are trying to change the mindset of present and future generations and we have to fight against this," he said.

The Taliban have proved that they are not Muslims because they are targeting innocent people, which is not an act that would be committed by any person of faith, Malik said.

The targeting of innocents, including the relatives of government functionaries, has proved that the militants are infidels, he said.

Malik also said the Pakistan government has complained to its Afghan counterpart about the infiltration of militants into the country from Afghanistan's Nuristan province.

Pakistan has suggested that the Afghan government should seal the border in that area or enhance troop deployments to curb the infiltration, he said.

Referring to reforms of religious seminaries, Malik said authorities have registered about 18,000 of the country's 24,000 madrassas.

Action is also being taken against banned sectarian groups, including the Laskhar-e-Janghvi and Sipah-e-Sahaba, he said.
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